The Olympics are no different from any big undertaking: You tend to assess the success of the operation relative to your view of it.
For an Olympian, if that view includes looking down from the medal podium while being glorified with your country’s national anthem, then chances are, yeah, seems like a pretty good Games. If not, particularly if you’re the dreaded fourth place finisher, the color of the Games can take on a much different cast.
These truths are evident for journalists covering the Games as well. If transportation to events runs on time, if your computer is working, if your stories get good play at home, then, yeah, seems like a pretty good Games. And here’s what we’ve produced so far.
As an editor, managing all of that is a matter of logistics. The challenge for Chicago Tribune journalists begins when we come together with Tribune Company colleagues to work side-by-side every Olympics. In London, Tribune Company has 20 people on site. That number does not include myriad editors and reporters at home in the States working around the clock to update websites and prepare print editions.
Back in London, the numbers break down like this: 13 from the Los Angeles Times, including their London-based foreign correspondent Henry Chu; five from Chicago Tribune (Philip Hersh, David Haugh, K.C. Johnson, Stacy St. Clair and Brian Hamilton); one from the Baltimore Sun (Jean Marbella, whose sole responsibility is a local Baltimore athlete you may have heard of. He’s a swimmer, goes by the name of Phelps.); and one technical expert to make sure our office operations run smoothly. Without him, our reports wouldn’t have much chance of making it out of London.
The on-site bureau chief is John Cherwa, a former Chicago Tribune sports editor now working for the Los Angeles Times. During the Games, I talk with John more than I talk with my wife. That’s what it takes to make sure we have our resources, which are generous but have their limits, in all the best places we need them, from covering live news events to working ahead on enterprise stories we believe distinguish our report from others.
For the 16 days of the Games, we’re one big happy family, playing side-by-side in London’s Olympic sandbox. We’ve done it this way for so long, nobody much remembers when we didn’t. We think it works well.
And each day, we hope the view from our readers is that, yeah, seems like the Tribune is having a pretty good Games.
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